an autodidact meets a dilettante…

‘Rise above yourself and grasp the world’ Archimedes – attribution

Posts Tagged ‘driving

Kangaroo Island – prehistory, wildlife, travel

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Little corellas, viewed from hotel window, Kingscote. © Sarah Courtney

 

Canto: So we’re here in the not-so-thriving metropolis of Kingscote, largest town of Kangaroo Island, third largest island off the Australian mainland, behind Tasmania and Melville Island (just north of Darwin). After a harrowing sea voyage and a long overland trek from Penneshaw, we’re relaxing briefly at the salubrious Seaview Wonderland Hotel-Motel-Boatel (or something) before setting out to explore the isle.

Jacinta: And our initial explorations, our prexplorations perhaps, have been online. It hasn’t been an island for long, geologically speaking – perhaps 10,000 years, having been separated from the mainland as a result of the Last Ice Age, which ended the Pleistocene Epoch. There’s much evidence of early Aboriginal presence, but they appear to have left the island some 2000 years ago. Rather surprising since the distance to the island is hardly forbidding.

Canto: As to the most interesting things to see or visit here – a lot of interesting and almost unique bird life. We’ve already seen a flock of pelicans and lots of black swans here on Nepean Bay, and this morning, a noisy flock of little corellas (I think) wheeled around the town, resting briefly on some pine trees and electric wires outside our window.

Jacinta: Yes, and within that noisy flock, each adult corella has a mate – they mate for life – which it clearly recognises though they all look perfectly alike to us.

Canto: yes, like the ‘savages’ all looked alike to Captain Cook and his merry men.

Jacinta: At first. Other things the island is known for are shipwrecks, fossils, seals, lighthouses, spectacular shorelines, ligurian bees and their honey, lavender, walking tracks, and more recently, a range of home-grown wines.

Canto: And fresh fish – which I remember very fondly from a childhood trip here. Probably my first taste of freshly-caught fish, the biggest turn-on of my pre-pubescent years.

Jacinta: Yes, well we’ve had our first dining experience, at the Ozone Hotel here in Kingscote, but neither of us chose fish, it was lamb shanks and lamb cutlets, and a delicious experience for nous deux. Together with a bottle of lubbly Dudley Bubbly, from Dudley Peninsula at the eastern end of the island.

Canto: I am looking forward to some fish though – our charming servitor recommended the baked whiting on the lunch-time menu, when we’ll get to take advantage of the speccy seafront view from our window seats, which we were deprived of last night, our first daylight-saving dark night of the year.

Jacinta: And friends have recommended ye olde fish-and-chips on the beach, wherever we can get it.

Canto: One of the minor problems here, though, is the large distances we have to travel to get anywhere, with many unsealed roads for reaching important but off-the-beaten-track sites, which I don’t like to risk in a hire car.

Jacinta: Yes the road from Penneshaw to Kingscote was long, if straight enough. And many other trips will be longer. And we do want to get to everything worth getting to.

Canto: I find my accelerator foot starts to ache. Bring on the self-driving electric vehicle.

Jacinta: Okay, our next report will be about Emu Bay. Trilobites! Among other things.

Australian pelicans, Kingscote © Sarah Coutney

 

Written by stewart henderson

April 2, 2018 at 10:33 am

women in science, solutions, and why nobody reads my blog, among other things

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Okay I’ve written facetiously about getting rid of men, or seriously (but facetiously) reducing their proportion of the populace, but in future I want to look at real solutions to a problem that I think is already being addressed but far too patchily and slowly – the problem of male power and dominance. The general solution, of course, is the ascent of woman, to paraphrase Jacob Bronowski via Darwin, and how to promote and quicken it. (Incidentally I’ve just discovered that ‘The Ascent of Woman’ is a four part documentary on women’s history, recently produced for the BBC by Dr Amanda Foreman – look forward to watching it).

However, before continuing I want to issue a plea for help. My blog, which I’ve been writing for many years now, has never had much of a readership, due probably to my inability to network, or even communicate much with others (I’d rather not think it’s anything to do with my writing skills). However, last month even that minuscule readership virtually collapsed, as I recorded my lowest number of hits since my first month of blogging. I’ve soldiered on, but now at the end of September I find this month’s numbers even worse. I feel I need to make a decision about the blog’s future – How do I increase the numbers? Does the blog need a makeover? Can I blame the attention-span of others? I find if I write short pieces, they don’t really cover anything in depth, but I know also that the in-depth pieces, the ones I work on hardest, often get the least attention. Should I just give up and go back to journal writing? At least that way I won’t be faced with the world’s indifference…

Anyway, enough about me – it’s interesting that when you start focusing on an issue, you hear about it everywhere, everybody seems to be talking about it. Today, listening to a podcast of the ABC Science Show, I heard that teenagers are our biggest killers, worldwide, predominantly through motor vehicle accidents. And of course we’re talking largely of male teenagers. The researcher announcing this was female, and, typical female, she was complaining about us tackling this old problem (this has been the global situation for some sixty years) in the same old piecemeal way, rather than though global collaboration in researching and trying to figure out workable solutions to what is clearly a global problem. It was clear from this passionate speaker (and mother of teenage children) that with more females leading research in this and other fields, we’ll get more collaboration and quicker and more effective solutions. And when Robyn Williams, our honourable Science Show anchor, asked the researcher a double-barrelled question – is this teenage problem a male one, and should teenage boys be banned from driving? – her honourable response was ‘yes, and yes’.

The question is – would a law specifically targeting boys/young men as drivers ever be implemented? Of course, many males would describe it as discriminatory. And of course it does discriminate, because the statistics are clear. But why, a young male might ask, should I be treated as a statistic? I’m not like other young men.

It’s a valid point, and I can’t see an obvious way of screening out the potentially safe young men from the potentially dangerous ones. So all we could acceptably do is raise the driving age for all, preferably globally, which would effectively discriminate against the statistically safer drivers, the females. Still, I like the idea of a push, led in the main by women, for a discriminatory driving age policy backed by science. It would raise the profile of the issue, bring women together in an excellent cause, potentially save lives, and feature as another small episode in the ascent of women.

Of course it wouldn’t solve the terrible wee problem of young kids stealing cars and killing and maiming others and themselves for pumped-up kicks…

Written by stewart henderson

October 1, 2016 at 8:39 am